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Everyone has a special place in their heart for Girl Scout Cookies. Not only because they’re spectacularly delicious, but because purchasing Girl Scout Cookies powers the Girl Scout Cookie Program and helps girls fulfill their dreams, follow their passions, and change the world!
Girl Scout Cookies not only help Girl Scouts earn money for fun, educational activities and community projects, but also play a huge role in transforming girls into G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)™ as they learn essential life skills that will stay with them forever. And while fun is part of the experience, giving back to our communities has been a hallmark of the Girl Scout Cookie Program since the first-known sale of cookies by Girl Scouts in 1917.
From the very beginning the Girl Scout Cookie Program—and Girl Scout Cookies—has been the engine that powers Girl Scouts. The sale of Girl Scout Cookies has made an indelible impact on the millions of Girl Scout alumnae who have sold them. In fact, 57 percent of Girl Scout alumnae in business say the program was key in the development of their skills today.1 From buying a bulletproof vest for a female police officer to creating care packages for patients at a local children’s cancer center, girls nationwide use their cookie revenue to fund projects that benefit their communities in amazing ways.
Through the Girl Scout Cookie Program, girls gain the power to change their communities and the world. Some recent examples include the launch in 2001 of programs to deliver Girl Scout Cookies (and a little bit of home) to United States military personnel around the globe. And when disaster strikes, Girl Scouts are there, using their cookie earnings to send care packages to victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, or to victims of Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
While girls are taking the lead in selling cookies and deciding what to do with those cookie earnings, parents and caregivers are there to support the girls every step of the way. From troop leaders to cookie moms and dads, adults support Girl Scouts by engaging with the cookie program to spend more time with their daughters, to have an impact on girls’ lives, and to contribute to a worthy cause. They know that one of the most important aspects of the cookie program is helping girls feel more confident, especially when they interact with others.
So, what do girls like best about participating in the cookie program? Of course, there’s the fun and the friendships, but there’s more to it than that. Girls also realize that setting and reaching their goals is both fulfilling and empowering. When coupled with the social interaction with friends, family, and customers, the cookie program becomes an essential part of the Girl Scout experience.
For 100 years, Girl Scouts has used cookie earnings to build everyday leaders who make a positive impact on our world. And there’s no doubt: American society today is better because of the girls who have taken part in the Girl Scout Cookie Program! But how did it all begin?
Hey, Let’s Sell Cookies!
It started in 1917 when Girl Scouts in Muskogee, Oklahoma, did what Girl Scouts everywhere always do. They had a great idea, got together, and took action to make it a reality. The girls of Mistletoe Troop hit upon the clever idea to fund their projects by selling cookies they made themselves in their kitchens at home. So simple—and so smart!
Other troops took note, and the idea of Girl Scouts selling cookies took off.
Cookie sales got a boost in 1922, when a special sugar cookie recipe was published in The American Girl magazine, along with a cookie-selling business plan to help troops maximize their efforts and returns.
Girls held their first sale of not just any cookies, but of what they specifically called Girl Scout Cookies in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1933. Those forward-thinking girls learned goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics—something that continues to this day.
A Nationwide Movement
Notable celebrities of the time helped spread the word about the cookie sales. Babe Ruth got into the act, helping promote the Million Cookie Drive at the 1924 World Series. Former First Lady and Girl Scout Lou Henry Hoover really got things rolling in 1933 by inspiring the first national sale of Girl Scout Cookies as a way to cope with the effects of the Great Depression. These allies understood the critical importance of the Girl Scout Cookie Program and took action to encourage others to support it also. That support continues today, with over 50 million U.S. households buying Girl Scout Cookies every year.
In the late 1930s, as Girl Scout Cookie sales gained in popularity, girls and their families could no longer bake enough cookies for everyone. So commercial bakers were called in to help make the popular confections. Good thing too, because in 1937 Girl Scouts in a record-breaking 125 local Girl Scout councils held their very own cookie drives.
Girl Scouts faced a major challenge in 1944 when supplies of cooking ingredients like eggs, milk, sugar, and chocolate were in short supply because of World War II. But that wasn’t going to stop a Girl Scout. They just did the Girl Scout thing and adapted, continuing to power their dreams by selling calendars instead of cookies. Girl Scouts also did their patriotic duty and sold war bonds to help the war effort.
Postwar prosperity spread across the country, and in 1951 girls opened up new sales channels—adding shopping mall booths to their usual door-to-door sales. And hello—a cookie called Thin Mint made its official debut in 1959 (though Girl Scouts first sold a chocolate mint cookie, called Cooky-Mints, in 1939).
But these iconic cookies are so much more than a delicious treat. Girl Scouts has been an inclusive organization from its inception and, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, the organization was recognized for its contribution to social good. In 1952, Ebony magazine acknowledged that even in the South, "… [Girl] Scouts were making slow and steady progress toward surmounting the racial barriers of the region.” Every girl, regardless of race, color, or creed, was given the opportunity to sell cookies. Cookie selling enabled teamwork, collaboration, and integration among girls and troops of diverse backgrounds as they worked together toward common goals. As conceived by Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low, Girl Scouts has always been about inclusion, always making sure that every girl, regardless of racial, social, economic, or other barriers, can find a safe, welcoming, fun space within Girl Scouts.
As the 1960s dawned, Girl Scouts reaffirmed its dedication to nature, the outdoors, and especially, going to camp. Girl Scouts began allocating portions of their cookie earnings to pay for field trips, day camp, and sleep-away camping adventures. Girl Scouts also helped celebrate the very first Earth Day in 1970 as they collaborated on environmental action programs. New cookie packaging reflected these trends and featured outdoor activities on redesigned boxes.
Enabling Amazing Experiences for Girls
The Girl Scout Cookie Program has always helped girls dream big, do big things, and create a big impact as they work together to make the world a better place.
For instance, in 1969, more than 100 Girl Scouts had the experience of a lifetime when they were special guests of NASA at the launch of Apollo 12 at Cape Kennedy (Cape Canaveral), Florida, and used cookie earnings to get there. Then there’s the troop from Maryland, who in 1996 microfinanced their big ideas and used their cookie earnings to go to the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. And who could forget the Girl Scout troop that sold cookies to Hollywood celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, John Legend, and Kate Winslet at the 88th annual Academy Awards® in 2016?
In 2015, Girl Scouts took the stage at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas as part of the debut of Digital Cookie™, underscoring the organization’s commitment to using technology to help position Girl Scouts for the future. The girls were one of the first youth-serving organizations to run a booth at CES, and quite possibly the first to have girls run the booth, showcasing their STEM skills and Digital Cookie to thousands of attendees. Expanding their presence in 2016, girls were able to meet with female innovators in STEM, giving them a chance to see what a future in STEM looks like—and to hopefully emulate that in their own lives.
This year, over a million amazing girls sold hundreds of millions of boxes of Girl Scout Cookies to support their mission of making the world a better place. But there’s more work to be done—and more amazing experiences to be had—and we need everyone’s involvement!
For 2018, girls have a new way to power even more awesome adventures—new Girl Scout S’mores™ cookies! What better way to celebrate 100 years of Girl Scouts selling cookies than by combining two iconic Girl Scout traditions—s’mores and Girl Scout Cookies—into one tasty treat? Consumers in select markets can enjoy one of two versions of this exciting new addition to the Girl Scout Cookie lineup. Wow!
You can help the next generation of girls fulfill their dreams—and change the world—by finding cookies near you now. With every box of Girl Scout Cookies you buy this year, you help support tomorrow's courage-boosting, confidence-inspiring, character-building, make-the-world-a-better-place experiences.
From the Academy Awards to Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to your local pet shelter or food bank, Girl Scouts are everywhere!
If cookies can help Girl Scouts accomplish all this in their first 100 years, can you imagine what the next 100 years will bring? Let’s find out! Find cookies now!
Share Your Cookie Story!
Celebrate 100 years of Girl Scouts selling cookies! Tell us about your experience selling cookies—and how it changed you, and changed the world!
Check out these breakthroughs,
fun facts, and inspiring milestones
from Girl Scout Cookie history!